Leading the fight against lung cancer
Tuesday, 7 May 2013
A DOCTOR from Rostrevor has become the first person in the UK to receive a prestigious European award for developing a device that replicates human lung motion and designed to improve lung cancer treatment in the future.
Aidan Cole, who works as a Clinical Oncologist Registrar in the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre, has just returned from Geneva where he was awarded the European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ESTRO) award for his research into High Precision Radiotherapy.
While in Geneva, he gave a lecture to 3,500 conference delegates and was presented with a plaque and a £2,500 prize.
Aidan's job entails the assessment and treatment of cancer patients with radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
He explained how his research is investigating the importance of movement during radiotherapy, which is especially important for patients with lung cancer receiving radiotherapy.
He said: "We know that respiratory motion can affect the radiation dose to lung cancers and the surrounding normal lung and there are many different strategies used to try and improve the ways in which we deliver treatment, to try and maximise the damage to lung cancers and minimise the dose given to normal lung tissue surrounding the cancer, which is vital to the patient's breathing.
“Many types of treatment both radiotherapy and chemotherapy are tested out in laboratories, before being taken into routine clinical use.
“So in conjunction with Kevin Prise, Professor of Radiation Biology and Professor Alan Hounsell's team, we designed and constructed a device that not only replicates human lung motion, but could also test the effects of radiotherapy treatment on different types of lung cancer.
“This is the first time that examining lung cancer cells in this way has ever been carried out."
Educated in St Mary's PS Rostrevor and St Colman's College in Newry, Aidan was accepted as a Member of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh before undertaking specialist training in Clinical Oncology.
Speaking of the significance of this award, Professor Joe O'Sullivan, Clinical Lead for Radiotherapy in Belfast and principal supervisor of the project said: "This award demonstrates that the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, Queen's University Belfast is recognised as an international leader in multidisciplinary radiotherapy research.
“By combining the research expertise of clinicians, biologists and physicists, we are addressing clinically relevant research questions which will lead to improved treatments for patients."
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the UK and the second most common type of cancer overall.
The hope is that with better understanding of the response of cancer cells, Aidan's research will help improve delivery of radiotherapy with more sophisticated techniques in the future.
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